B: Bully

I was like everyone and no one. I was a good athlete. I was smart. I was funny. I was observant. I was too tall. I was overweight. I was mouthy. My family had money, my father well-known. I was guarded, never sure who my true friends were.

Somehow, randomly, I was deemed special. I sat at the top of the junior high popularity pyramid. I didn’t campaign for it like some, or scheme for it like others. It just was.

I tried to broker peace between the two girls who argued over sitting behind me in English class. I told them I didn’t care. They fought anyway, hurling insults, spitting lies, as if being cruel to each other would endear them to me.

Cliques expanded and contracted nonsensically. One day, Aimee and Maggie decided they hated Karen. The next day, Karen and Maggie ganged up on Aimee.  Every day, a new configuration, and I was expected to determine the pecking order. In. Out. Out. In. Leah kissing Jason means she’s slutty.  Jennifer’s dirty sneakers means she’s poor. I deferred to natural selection, letting the whole mess course-correct until all seemed well again.

Chad was a boy who looked like a man. Nearly six feet tall, stocky build, facial hair instead of peach fuzz. His two front teeth protruded. A rowdy boy named Mike re-named him Bucky. It was so pervasive even teachers called him that. It hurt his feelings. I asked him why he took it. I told him laughing it off made him look weak. He said at least they were talking to him now.

I hated the teasing, the rumors, the manipulation. I hated seeing people harassed, shamed, ostracized.

I told my mother how mean some of my classmates were. She said what most adults do: “Kids will be kids”, “When boys tease, it means they like you”, “Girls are cruel at that age.” I never mentioned it again.

I didn’t participate but I didn’t object.

I wanted to help but I didn’t want to become the next target.

Abstainer? Enabler?

I’m still unsure.

34 thoughts on “B: Bully”

  1. This is such a well paced and well put post.
    I occasionally get frustrated when people think bullying is new. It’s been around for years. I guess the best we can do is start today to be kinder and more human.


  2. Bullying is everywhere. Adults bully too. When I see people being bullied I do my best to stand up for them. I don’t agree with picking on someone since they are a “little” different. Most of the time they aren’t any different. I see bullies as having self-esteem issues. If they were secure I don’t think they would be bullies. We need to encourage teachers to step in also and not be bullies too.
    Great post!!


    1. It’s true, everyone is different. It’s just that people seem to hope that if they pick one someone else, their differences won’t be as prevalent. It’s cool to celebrate the things that make us unique.


  3. Excellent post! I was bullied and was quiet while others were bullied. I was shy and hated it but didn’t want to be turned on. I think that is why I try to be caring and empathetic to everyone now. I honestly think people like to feel superior and bullying is just another one of those ways they can tear others down and feel better by comparison. How to change that…not sure yet!!


    1. I agree, it all stems from insecurity. But we have to find ways to deal with those very natural emotions rather than take them out on others. Compassion seems to be a dying art!


  4. What a powerful post. Thank you so much for sharing this story. It can be tricky for kids to know what to do and sometimes they end up doing nothing. It’s unfortunate, but understandable. It’s a scary age.


  5. Excellent post. I loved the academic part of school, but hated the social aspect of it. I would never want to relive my school years ever again with all the bullying, teasing, and ostracizing.

    And you’re right—adult bullies are far worse. Probably because they have a lot more power (at least perceived power) than child bullies.


    1. Some of the worst bullies I have encountered are so-called grown-ups. The stakes are definitely higher as adults so it seems we’re even less likely to do something about it.


  6. I don’t know what to think of the big emphasis on bullying. I was a victim of some pretty severe stuff, but if kids don’t learn to be a little tough how will they get on in the world? Of course, the stuff that is physically harmful or leads to suicide is bad. I just signed on to the A-Z challenge, nearly at the last minute, but I’m trying to visit every blog at least once.


    1. I agree that sometimes we have to take knocks to learn about the world. I don’t believe in being overprotective or hyper-coddling. But I also feel that life’s going to provide enough of those hard times without us going out of our way to contribute. Good luck with the challenge!


  7. An interesting post! I agree with one of your responses to a comment above about how there are adult bullies too, unfortunately. Bleh! Having witnessed bullying going on as a child, maybe now you’re better equipped at knowing how to address this as an adult. Good luck!


    1. I’m sorry that happened to you. I’m not sure if that kind of behavior is human nature or not. It’s so freaking pervasive. But as with all behaviors we can either foster or discourage them. It’s our choice.


  8. I think this is my favorite post of the day so far. Hindsight can really haunt you – all the things you did or didn’t do that you would do differently now because you KNOW. I think a lot of kids (and even adults) feel the same way about bullying. They know they should stop it, but don’t know how, they don’t want to become a victim of bullying themselves by drawing attention…there are a million different reasons.


    1. Thank you! With kids, there are so many factors in play. Sometimes parents don’t want to believe that their kids are bullies or being bullied. Sometimes teachers and administrators want to help but encounter resistance from parents or abdicate authority completely. Those feelings of helplessness persist throughout our lives.


  9. Sitting back as a witness can be just as hard as putting up with it as a victim. At least you didn’t fuel the fire by taking a part in it. What is really bad is when adults exhibit the same behaviors as those kids. I know a few who act as if they’ve never left high school or they bully others because they were bullied themselves. It’s really sad.


  10. It is tough that for whatever reasons we choose not to be or get involved. Of course we might not the wisdom at the young age, but it is never good to sit back and do nothing when the times call for specific action. I plead guilty.

    Gregg Metcalf


  11. I lived in many states growing up, attended many schools. It was always the same everywhere I went. The popularity struggle, the bullies, those that wouldn’t stick up for themselves or someone else. I always managed to stay below the radar…everyone liked me…when they bothered to notice. I moved so much–it was no wonder anyone ever remembered my name. It wasn’t until Facebook and reconnecting there after so many years that I was shocked at how many people, from the various schools I attended, actually remembered me and some of the things I did–that in many instances I had to jog my own memory to say “Oh yeah, I remember that!” Many still keep in touch, wonder when I’ll visit again. Maybe I wasn’t that far under the radar? Perplexing for sure.

    I enjoyed your post– real, open, honest. Shall return tomorrow!!

    Cheers, Jenn


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